Using Math Anchors To Develop Addition and Subtraction Fluency

Written by Natalie (Teaching With A Touch Of Honey)

I LOVE using math anchors with my students! I created these math activities years ago … before I had even heard of anchor activities! I wanted a way for my students to practice their basic math facts on a regular basis. An unplanned bonus to these math activities was that they were highly engaging to students. I found students wanted to progress through the levels and often asked if they could work on their math anchors throughout the day!

Pssst – If students require manipulatives to help them answer the math questions you can provide bingo chips, cube-a-links, or similar objects for them to use to determine the answers.

What are anchor activities?

Anchor activities are tasks that students complete when they have finished their other work, when you need to work with small groups of students in your class, and when students need to practice specific skills or concepts. These activities are more than just busy work. They are meaningful tasks based on goals, outcomes, or objectives you are teaching and can be completed independently by students.


What are addition and subtraction math anchors?

Math anchors focus on basic addition and subtraction facts. Students develop their math fluency as they work through the activities.

How can I use math anchors in my classroom?

Over the years, I have used math anchors in a number of different ways in my classroom. I have used math anchors as:

  • an anchor activity when students finish their regular class work,
  • a math center activity,
  • bell work,
  • a home practice activity, and
  • part of my regular math program.

Anchor Activity

A common use of the math anchors is as an anchor activity for students to complete when they finish their regular class work. Students hand in their class assignment and then work on their anchor activities until the math class is finished. The math anchors can be made into a series of booklets that students can systematically complete.

Math Center Activity

Another use of the math anchors is to include them as a math center activity. Print the math anchors on heavy paper and have students record their answers on scrap pieces of paper or answer booklets. Consider including the answer key and having students mark their own work.



Bell Work

Students work on their math anchors when they initially enter math class. They can work for 5 to 10 minutes to activate their background knowledge and get them thinking about math. The anchors are a great math warm up activity!

Home Practice Activity

The math anchors also make a useful home practice activity. Send the math anchors home with students to practice their basic facts. Students can work through the different levels of the math anchors at their own pace. You can also target the individual learning needs of students by providing them with targeted math anchors.

Regular Math Program

Using the math anchors as part of your regular math program is another possible use of these activities. Pre-test your students on their basic addition and subtraction facts and give them the appropriate math anchors that match the areas they need to practice.

How will you use math anchors in your classroom? Do you have another idea for using the math anchors? Comment below!

Natalie Regier (Teaching With A Touch of Honey) -

Hi, I’m Natalie, the creator of Teaching With A Touch of Honey. My resources are created to save you time and to meet the different learning needs of students in your classroom. These materials help teachers support their students through differentiation and tiered instruction.